Young lesbian and gay people are frequently invisible within the population, and within housing services. Statistics on homeless young people do not record the sexuality of those concerned. Lesbian and gay young people have the same needs as other young people but face additional difficulties due to the homophobia of others. Many lesbian and gay young people are forced to leave home against their will, because their parents do not accept their sexuality.
They are at risk of violence if they express their sexuality among their peers or the broader community. The lesbian and gay community does not offer a lot of support to young people, largely because it's active participants are adults, who already deal with a wide range of issues. Some lesbian and gay young people are at risk of entering exploitative relationships with adults. Young gay men are particularly at risk of contracting STDs through unsafe sex and of engaging in sex work (Irwin et al, 1995).
Once homeless, young lesbian and gay people frequently experience both direct homophobia in the form of harassment and abuse within housing services, and indirect discrimination as their needs are ignored or neglected within services (2010 Association 1994). Young lesbians and gays in relationships are not recognised as "family" by service providers, SHAs or within their workplaces. One accommodation service for gay and lesbian young people exists in Australia with a waiting list including many young people from interstate.
There is a need for training among services providing housing to young people on the needs of young lesbians and gays; the forms that homophobia takes in the community; the services that exist for young gay and lesbian people; and appropriate policy responses to the needs of this target group.
The Report on Aspects of Youth Homelessness (House of Representatives Standing Committee on Community Affairs 1995) identified a need for further research into the links between sexuality and homelessness, and for the development of gay and lesbian specific services in capital cities.